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The Cornouillet family in “A Country Outing.” Journal de la Jeunesse, 1889.


In 1889, the Cornouillet family waited in line for the Saint-Cloud omnibus,
just as the Fenouillards did a couple of months later, in front of the restaurant
at the Universal Exhibition.






François Caradec Introducing The Fenouillard Family


On the 28th of March, 1936, at 10:20 p.m., a recuperating Jean Cocteau left Paris to embark on his own journey Around the World in 80 Days, dogging, he confessed, less the footsteps of Jules Verne’s Phileas Fogg than those of Christophe’s Monsieur Fenouillard.
          It makes perfect sense that this born academician had from an early age been intrigued by Monsieur Fenouillard’s way of thinking. He no doubt realized that Fenouillard himself had recreated the voyage of Phileas Fogg according to a prescription dear to Christophe—old wine in new bottles— and so thought he had no need to start from scratch.
          But Monsieur Fenouillard’s world tour was not the first journey undertaken by this likeable purveyor of cotton bonnets. Previously, in February 1889, an illustrated serial entitled “A Country Outing” had appeared in the Journal de la Jeunesse, published by Hachette. There we find its hero, Agénor Cornouillet, a Parisian jeweler and owner of a green alpaca umbrella, busy deciding whether or not to spend his Sunday at Versailles or Saint-Cloud in the company of his dear wife and two daughters, Artémise and Cunégonde. Just as Christophe’s other Parisian hero, the learned Cosinus, will later fail to get beyond the gates of Paris, so Monsieur Cornouillet likewise remains stuck inside the capital.
          In August 1889, Monsieur Cornouillet reappeared under the guise of Monsieur Fenouillard in the Petit Français illustré, whose publisher, Armand Colin, had begged Christophe to supply him with “anything” relating to the Universal Exhibition. But at the conclusion of this “journey” (Fenouillard having by this time become a Parisian businessman retired to Saint-Rémy-sur-Deule [Somme Supérieure], which is to say Lille), young readers clamored for a sequel. And they were not disappointed: Christophe published “La Famille Fenouillard” in the Petit Français illustré—in a manner recalling both the legendary images d’Epinal and anticipating modern comic strips—from August 31, 1889, to June 24, 1893. A total of 53 episodes spread over five years! But that was so typical of Christophe: both brilliant and lazy, he correctly surmised that no child who read the beginnings of Cosinus or Camember in this anti-clerical, anti- German weekly would be around for the conclusion of their adventures six years later…

FRANÇOIS CARADEC is one of the leading lights of the Oulipo writing group. His landmark rehabilitation of Christophe was first published in 1956, with a preface by Raymond Queneau, and was reprinted, greatly expanded and lavishly illustrated, by Pierre Horay in 1981. Caradec’s other works include the definitive study of Raymond Roussel, and books on Alphonse Allais, Lautréamont and the infamous farter “le petomane” (with Jean Nohain).

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Christophe - The Fenouillard Family at the 1889 Exhibition

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